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Policy Research Shop Support for the Policy Research Shop is provided by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Policy Research Shop Support for the Policy Research Shop is provided by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Policy Research Shop Support for the Policy Research Shop is provided by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education. Policy Research Shop Divestment From Fossil Fuel Investments An Analysis of Potential Impacts and Strategies Sean Connolly, Katelyn Schultz, Nicholas Shallow The contents of this report were developed under grant P116B from the U.S. Department of Education. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

2 Policy Research Shop Executive Summary Background Fiduciary Responsibility Financial Impacts Divestment Efficacy Divestment Strategies

3 Policy Research Shop Background Value of fossil fuel in pension funds = $39.7 million of $3.8 billion, 1.04% Compare to Seattle (4.44%) and San Francisco (3.2%) The average fund 2-10%

4 Policy Research Shop Fiduciary Responsibility Current Law – Does require that divestment decisions have neutral or positive effect on returns – Does not outlaw socially responsible investment Current law is part of Uniform Prudent Investor Act – Is a national framework, constraining

5 Policy Research Shop Financial Impacts Overview Sin Stock Premium and Fossil Fuel Asset Effects deemed to have minimal impact Sin Stock Premium – Academic consensus: costs of moral projects balanced out by better community relations, worker retention, etc. Fossil Fuel Asset Effects can be removed with intelligent reinvestment

6 Policy Research Shop Financial Impacts Overview (cont.) Three Major Effects – Diversity Penalty (likely negative) – Transaction Costs (likely negative) – Carbon Bubble (likely positive)

7 Policy Research Shop Diversity Penalty Wide Range of Estimates – High: 1.04% – Low: % for removal of “filthy fifteen” Estimates at the lower end are supported by more reliable studies VT has less invested in fossil fuels than peer accounts making the diversity penalty even smaller

8 Policy Research Shop Transaction Costs Costs associated with research, advisor, and brokerage fees SCERS study estimates transaction costs to be 0.5% on the buy and sell sides This translates to $400,000 in transaction costs for the VT pension account Typical administrative costs for a fund of VT’s size are between $19 million and $52.8 million

9 Policy Research Shop Carbon Bubble Assuming legislation limiting climate change is passed in the future fossil fuel stocks are expected to decline One estimate is 40-60% of a viable oil and gas portfolio

10 Policy Research Shop Divestment Efficacy Direct Financial Impacts – Likely very limited – Small account, stocks picked up by neutral investors Indirect Impacts – The larger effect – Large media impact, stigmatizing power

11 Policy Research Shop Steps Towards Divestment

12 Policy Research Shop Steps Towards Divestment

13 Policy Research Shop Steps Towards Divestment

14 Policy Research Shop Steps Towards Divestment

15 Policy Research Shop Steps Towards Divestment

16 Policy Research Shop Steps Towards Divestment

17 Policy Research Shop Media Impacts Inevitable media attention, first state to divest Unity College example

18 Policy Research Shop Conclusion Fiduciary responsibility Main impacts: diversity penalty, transaction costs, and carbon bubble Not all plans are created equal It’s complicated


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